Canada Day cake: As part of Westside Daze and the West Kelowna Canada Day festivities, baker Anja Dumas (middle) cuts the first pieces while dignitaries prepare to hand out cake to festival goers. For more on Canada Day, turn to page A3. - Image: Alistair Waters

The story behind the Westside Daze Canada cake

The Westside Daze cake by Anja Dumas is something to behold and a mainstay of the festival

By Brenda Giesbrecht

Lots of towns in Canada have a big community cake to celebrate Canada Day. But how many of them need an ambulance crew to move it onto the party site?

Anja Dumas is the head baker of the amazing Westside Daze Canada Day cake and takes great pride in her annual creation.

“It’s my baby!” she laughs.

Measuring 4 feet by 6 feet, the giant Canadian flag truly is a labour of love, and a logistical challenge.

“I have a great crew to help me with this project,” said Dumas. “We start on Thursday, slicing 40 pounds of strawberries used for all the red parts of the flag. On Friday, Nature’s Oven Bakery allows us to use their facility after their production run is finished for the day, so we can bake all the cake. Then everything is moved to the Lions Hall, where we can use their air conditioned commercial kitchen to put it all together.”

The crew begins to assemble the cake early Saturday morning, and works at it until 2:30 p.m. when the ambulance crew arrives to deliver it to Memorial Park.

Yes, the ambulance crew.

“The ambulance is the best way to move a cake of this size,” said Dumas. “It has a big stretcher space, the vehicle is air conditioned, and the crew is experienced in handling heavy but delicate cargo. And they love it!”

Dumas gets to ride in the ambulance, which is part of the fun for her after all the work. With lights flashing, it makes quite an entrance to the festivities.

This year’s cake will be a bit different. It’s still a white cake with banana cream filling, along with the strawberries and icing on top. “But that’s all I’m going to tell you,” said Dumas. “The rest is a surprise.”

Although she isn’t a professional baker, Dumas has been making the cake since she and her husband Pierre started volunteering for Westside Daze back in 2008. She first was a helper for baker Peter Klein, and then became head baker in 2012.

“Baking and decorating are my passion, and this is the ultimate baking project. I want to keep doing this as long as I can. It’s a lot of work – the whole event is a lot of work for a small committee – but when I see all the people in Memorial Park, see their smiles when the cake arrives and hear people saying ‘Thank you’, it’s all worth it.”